Harriet Tubman Just Not Nazi Enough For Trump To Honor On Our Money
We were all very excited at the prospect of American hero Harriet Tubman replacing genocidal asshole Andrew Jackson on the $20. The Obama administration had planned to unveil the Tubman Twenties in 2020. That's also the 100th anniversary of (white) women's suffrage. Unfortunately, it looks like we'll have to wait a while for racist-free twenties. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin let it drop yesterday that any changes won't happen until at least 2026, maybe even as late as 2028. Why? Mnuchin told the House Financial Services Committee that it's all about security (of white feelings).
MNUCHIN: The primary reason we have looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues. Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028. The $10 bill and the $50 bill will come out with new features beforehand.
That's an interesting whitewash. The primary and certainly best reason for the change is because Jackson was a monster whom we should no longer voluntarily honor in any way. It's why we threw out our copy of Leonard Part 6 on VHS. Laura Ingraham might claim this makes us the Taliban, but she's a hatemonger known for hyperbole. Jackson will still appear in history books. We'll still learn about the Indian Removal Act and its resulting horrors. We just won't put his ugly mug on the money descendants of people he despised and abused have to use every day when they buy toothpaste. There are so many white men on our currency, we can afford to exclude the really big assholes. White folks still have Lincoln and the guy Lin-Manuel Miranda played on Broadway.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley didn't fall for Mnuchin's spin. She reminded the Treasury secretary that putting Tubman on the $20 was part of an "exhaustive community process." The goal was to honor a prominent women from history on US currency. Tubman was an obvious choice because she's an objective badass. She repeatedly risked her life to help black people escape slavery, which cost white people a lot of dead presidents. There is poetic irony in Tubman on the $20 because America's prioritization of money over humanity is why slavery persisted for so long. Tubman was also a war hero, and we know how Donald Trump feels about them.
During Mnuchin's testimony, Pressley backed the Treasury secretary into multiple corners and slapped him around for a while. Once again, this must be viewed for full appreciation of her unleashed awesomeness.
PRESSLEY: The occupant of the White House, Donald Trump, said that the move to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill was "pure political correctness." He in fact suggested putting her on a $2 bill. So do you agree that nearly a year of collecting response from across the country can be simply reduced to "political correctness"?
Munch tried to dodge this question, but Pressley "reclaimed her time" all over his face.
PRESSLEY: Does that mean you have no intention of executing the redesign as planned by your predecessor?
MNUCHIN: That is correct. I've made no decision to execute on a redesign.
Mnuchin insists he's focused solely on "security," which is an especially facile excuse. The $20 is the most counterfeited bill within the US. If security were actually a priority, he wouldn't delay an update. The revised timeline is also not an accident. Senior Treasury Department officials claim Mnuchin wants to postpone a redesign until Trump is out of office. Mnuchin is apparently afraid the president might cancel the new $20 completely out of his usual racist spite. Trump is a big fan of Jackson because of course he is. Jackson didn't just hate Indians and black people like your Fox-viewing grandpa. He was also a big fat crook who introduced the "spoils system" to American politics. That's where the president fills key government positions with sycophantic toadies and partisan hacks regardless of merit or competence. Maybe Donald Trump is Andrew Jackson only with bone spurs.
New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who'd recently introduced the Harriet Tubman Tribute Act, said there was "no excuse" for the Trump administration's failure to prioritize the $20's redesign.
SHAHEEN: Sadly, this delay sends an unmistakable message to women and girls, and communities of color, who were promised they'd see Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.
Trump has been sending racist and sexist messages fairly non-stop since his election. It's not a surprise that a president who praises Robert E. Lee would not want to honor a true American hero during his less than distinguished tenure.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).